A final word: people sometimes ask about the spiritual part of healing, when they understand the physical and emotional elements. Our Baby Girl will have a new sense of self when her spirit is restored to its original brightness through trauma work. Of course, all this is in my imagination. It’s just a movie. But my subconscious doesn’t know the difference, and so I am waiting for the adult Baby Girls of the world to knock at my door.
You are kind. You are smart. You are Important.
These pillars of self-esteem, transmitted through the voice of a loving nanny, to her small charge, echo throughout the engaging film that is The Help, that shows us far more than a political or social view of civil rights and southern lifestyles in the 1960’s. It weaves through the childhoods of children brought up by others, thankfully, children rescued, or not rescued, from neglectful and dysfunctional parents. The words so intentionally spoken and repeated, in the mesmerizing southern drawl, show the potential for healing through the creation of a loving bond and a solid sense of self. They are used to calm and heal in the face of abuse.
Many of us, in the real world, grow up with enough trauma – due to miseducation, neglect or misguided punishment by our parents – to create slightly damaged goods, as popular culture puts it. We all have traumatic childhoods to some extent, although to be fair, not like the ones in the film!
The Help does prompt reflection on the power of words. The only thing a child truly needs is unconditional love and affirmation from a parent or close caregiver; rare are the instances that children get this consistently. Many parents in another generation didn’t know; many now don’t understand the importance of this key point. Parents focus on time and discipline and performance. You didn’t have to live in the 1960’s in the south to grow up without the pillars of self-esteem that create healthy relationships and fulfilled lives.
I was drawn to feel empathy for much of this film with the tiny Baby Girl, primed for a life of grim absence of love, once her loving real mother, her kind and capable nanny, left.
Humans love or harm each other through their tone of voice and intention. The words “You are kind. You are smart. You are Important.” are the affirmation of love from caretaker to her young charge, in the presence of neglectful parents.
Words of affirmation, encouragement and validation build a bond of love that transcends time and space. When we recognize the power of our words, we become more attentive to what we say, to where we invest our creative energies of speech, and how we use our words.
We all need to tell ourselves every day that we are important, that we are wise, and we are loving. As go our words, to and from each other, and to ourselves as self-talk, so go our thoughts and our creation.
We learn as practitioners of trauma resolution how a voice raised in anger – from a distant and forgotten past – becomes a pain in the heart and ears of a young listener, imprinting itself for years to come and setting up triggers for fear, anxiety and insecurity. Words become energetic objects, or metaphors, in our energy fields, palpable and observable by objective viewers, and not figments of the imagination. The scientific theory of how this happens is through the concept of energy transduction. The energy of words, one form of energy – frequency, pitch and tone of speech – is captured auditorily, interpreted within the brain, and translated into a pain or physical sensation within the body.
Quantum physics and trauma therapy both offer lessons about the power of words, the importance of tone of delivery and of the loving act of listening or observing, with loving eye contact and attentive intention. And yes, like speaking, listening is a profound act of love, just as is looking in the eyes, providing undivided attention and speaking kindly. As humans, we have the power to change others, just by being in proximity. We also have the power to choose to be hurtful or healing, angry or loving.
Go listen attentively to each other, then, and see where it leads you. And choose to be loving.